The world is still in the grip of the philosophy of endless growth, endless consumption of material “goods” and energy. Along with that goes the “throwaway mentality.
The result – not just the disappearance of precious resources – water, land , biodiversity – but also the dirty pollution of the ecosphere with wastes. One of the worst is radioactive wastes. (Don’t be caught by the nuclear lobby lie about the’nuclear fuel cycle’ – which is really a chain leading to toxic wastes needing burial)
However, environmentalists must wake up to the fact that nearly all of our advanced technology requires “rare earths” – cerium, 15 lanthanoid elements and one or both of the elements yttrium and scandium. Thorium is often classed with them. Mining these elements results in highly toxic radioactive tailings.
If we’re serious about not creating radioactive wastes disasters, such as the notorious ones in Malaysia and China then the answer must be – DESIGN – designing wind turbines, cell phones, lap-tops etc – in a such a way that the rare metals can be easily retrieved and used again.
“The situation clearly calls for international policy initiatives to minimize the seemingly bizarre situation of spending large amounts of technology, time, energy and money to acquire scarce metals from the mines and then throwing them away after a single use.”
The nuclear lobby is telling one of its finest whoppers – that there really is a “nuclear fuel cycle” – that toxic radioactive wastes can be turned into lucrative nuclear fuel – for a never ending glorious “cycle”
Not true. It is truly a Nuclear Fuel Chain – that the lobby hopes to put around Australians’ necks. The new geewhiz (not yet existing) Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs) and Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs), including the Power Reactor Innovative Small Module (PRISM) – all produce highly toxic wastes that have to be buried. Reprocessing is NOT a “cycle”
SECOND – Rare Earths involve highly radioactive wastes – and require a big switch in DESIGN – so that they can be recycled.
Environmentalists must wake up to this. There must be a paradigm shift from the thinking, (so entrenched in Australia) – from “dig it up – use it – throw it away” – to DESIGN.
The modern technologies that we value – from wind turbines to mobile phones must be redesigned, so that their rare earths can be easily retrieved and re-used.
Otherwise the planet will be further plagued by radioactive wastes from rare earths.
INFRASTRUCTURE, GOVERNMENT AND RESOURCE REQUIREMENTS FOR BOTH LARGE AND SMALL MODULAR REACTOR POWER PLANTS IN AUSTRALIA PART 1- INFRASTRUCTURE 1,2 JAMES BROWN, 1,2 STEFAAN SIMONS and 1,2ANTHONY D. OWEN 1 International Energy Policy Institute (IEPI), UCL Australia, Adelaide, Australia 2 University College London, UK e-mail: email@example.com
Abstract This paper considers the minimum infrastructure, construction and waste resource requirements for Australia to deploy both large reactors and small modular reactors to be licensed in the near term, including NuScale, mPower and Westinghouse SMR. The requirements for other types of small modular reactors are provided in some of the comparisons to broaden the range of estimates.
Preliminary estimates suggest that FOAK large and small reactor plants would likely have similar land, infrastructure, fuel and waste requirements per MWe capacity under current regulatory regimes.
This is somewhat in contrast to the perception that SMRs allow for faster approvals, siting and deployment of power plants requiring less infrastructure and resources. However, in the U.S. the development of regulatory approaches for SMR licensing continues, in order to take into account the various designs, modularity, collocation features, and size of the emergency planning zone (EPZ).
However, it would be prudent, though, for governments to proceed with nuclear infrastructure and regulatory planning on the basis that the regulatory requirements for SMRs will not be significantly different to large nuclear power plants, until sometime after they have been commercially deployed.
While this paper acknowledges that SMRs may provide some financial benefits over larger reactors, it is argued that there is little difference in the scale of preparations required to develop Australia’s nuclear that there is little difference in the scale of preparations required to develop Australia’s nuclear power programme capabilities in the near term……..ttp://www.jnrd-nuclear.ro/images/JNRD/No.7/jnrd-7_art1.pdf
IAEA reports no long-term plan for Lynas waste, Malaysian Insider 17 October 2014 The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday gave a passing safety grade to a controversial Malaysia rare earths plant, but raised concerns that there was no long-term plan for properly disposing of the plant’s potentially radioactive waste.
The rare earths processing plant in the state of Pahang has generated opposition from green groups who fear radioactive contamination and have accused authorities and Lynas of overriding public concern.
In a report, the IAEA said it saw little risk of contamination due to the low-level radiation involved, and that its investigators were “not able to identify any instances of non-compliance” with international standards. “Lynas needs to demonstrate that the disposal of solid waste can be carried out in a safe manner over the long-term,” the report said.
It recommended that Malaysian authorities require Lynas to come up with a plan.
“There is a lack of a plan for managing the waste from the decommissioning and dismantling of the plant at the end of its life,” it said……
However, it also appeared to underscore environmentalists’ concerns that Australian miner Lynas Corp has no long-term plan for the disposal of waste from the plant.- http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/iaea-teams-says-lynas-plant-generates-low-level-radioactive-waste-bernama#sthash.JEFk1poD.dpuf
to Energy White Paper Taskforce
Department of Industry ,
from D Jim Green
The White Paper misrepresents Friends of the Earth in relation to nuclear power and I am seeking immediate clarification on a couple of points.
The WP states: “However, the relative safety of nuclear power is reflected in a 2013 study commissioned by Friends of the Earth, which concluded that, “overall the safety risks associated with nuclear power appear to be more in line with lifecycle impacts from renewable energy technologies, and significantly lower than for coal and natural gas per MWh of supplied energy.”
Question 2: Why does the WP fail to note that the commissioned paper raised multiple objections to nuclear power, and that FoE UK retained its anti-nuclear policies as a result of the review process, e.g. from the article below ‘The non-nuclear energy pathway that Friends of the Earth advocates is credible …’
Please provide immediate answers to the above questions since the misrepresentation is a matter of great concern.
Please also advise if the Department or the Minister will immediately issue a media release correcting the mirepresentation. Alternatively, will the Department put a note on the relevant webpage noting that the WP fails to specify that the Friends of the Earth group in question is FoE UK and that FoE UK retained its anti-nuclear policies as a result of the review process.
Jim Green B.Med.Sci.(Hons.), PhD
National nuclear campaigner – Friends of the Earth, Australia
Dear Dr Green
Thank you for your email to the Energy White Paper Taskforce regarding the citation of the Tyndall Centre report.
To clarify, the paper released is the interim Green Paper, which is the basis for consultation on policy issues. Submissions received until 4 November will help inform the development of the Energy White Paper. We expect to release the Energy White Paper later this year.
On the referencing of the report, we note that the quotation is accurate, and the footnote referencing provides enough detail to clarify that the report is based on a UK analysis, and allows for easy access to the online report in full, including the report origins and relevant disclaimers, as would be normal practice.
We acknowledge your preference that the report be linked to Friends of the Earth UK more explicitly in text, rather than through accessing the commissioning and disclaimer detail of the report itself. Given that concern, should the reference be used in the Energy White Paper, we will ensure that the body of our text includes the distinction. We would appreciate your guidance as to whether the preference is to use UK, or the full ‘England, Wales and Northern Ireland’ as per the report cover.
Energy White Paper Taskforce
Department of Industry
Anti-uranium activists criticise NSW exploration program, Australian Mining 15 September, 2014 Vicky Validakis Anti-nuclear campaigners have criticised the NSW government for opening up the state to uranium exploration.
The move comes two years after NSW overturned a uranium exploration ban. Mining uranium is still restricted.
Three locations around NSW – near Broken Hill, near Cobar and south of Dubbo – have been earmarked for drilling activity.
Natalie Wasley, spokeswomen for the Beyond Nuclear Initiative, said the decision was disappointing, ABC reported.
“Uranium has very unique and dangerous properties and risks,” Wasley said. “It’s linked to the production of the world’s most toxic and long-lasting industrial waste, as well as proliferation of the world’s most destructive weapons, so it poses a risk to workers, to communities and the environment.”
Wasley said the sector will only create a small number of jobs, and claims the risks associated with uranium outweigh any economic benefits. “We know that in rural and regional areas there’s a much better opportunity for long-lasting sustainable jobs in the renewable sector.”
“We’d really encourage those local governments and the state governments to be putting money and resources into developing more creative, long-term and sustainable jobs for people.”……..
The six companies invited to apply for licenses are Australian Zirconia, Callabonna Resources, EJ Resources, Hartz Rare Earths, Iluka Resources and Marmota Energy. http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/anti-uranium-activists-criticise-nsw-exploration-p
Uranium exploration in western NSW – but mining is still prohibited NSW Country Hour Sally Bryant and Julie Clift 15 Sept 14, The New South Wales Government has invited six mining companies to put in expressions of interest to explore for uranium, but mining will remain prohibited, until deposits prove economically viable.
However not all of the mining companies who are involved in this process are actually interested in mining for uranium.
One of six companies invited to tender for an exploration licence, Alkane Resources, is developing a rare earth project near Dubbo, in the state’s central west.
Alkane say they’re not interested in uranium, that they are merely protecting their rare earth project from other resource companies applying for an exploration licence over the top of them
Managing Director Ian Chalmers says this is an insurance policy for his company……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-15/uranium-exploration-in-western-nsw/5743584
Note: We mightn’t like mining, and it will be good when eventually product design is such that recycling of rare earths will pretty much eliminate this. Still, rare earths are needed in 21st Century technologies, especially in renewables. At least this company is not involved in the difficult and hazardous rare earths processing. I understand that processing is to be done in China, – where, after their disastrous history, they now do have the most advanced methods
Mining company Arafura Resources says plans to mine rare earth minerals in central Australia remain ‘on track’, despite uncertainty over future funding for the project, ABC Rural News 3 Sept 14, NT Country Hour By Carmen Brown
The company hopes to extract up to 20,000 tonnes of rare earth oxide per year from the Nolan’s Bore deposit, 135 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.
A comprehensive project report released this week, indicates mining could begin at the site in 2019, six years later than previously expected. General manager of exploration and business development, Richard Brescianini, says while there has been strong interest in the project from investors, the company is yet to secure full financial backing for the mine……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-03/rare-earth-mine-on-track-for-central-australia/5715100
Nervous investors ditch Lynas ahead of move to Malaysia July 3, 2014 The Age, Brian Robins Troubled rare-earth miner Lynas Corp is to shift its head office abroad as part of a renewed cost-cutting regime as the company seeks to stop haemorrhaging cash.
It also comes amid production difficulties at its recently commissioned Malaysian processing unit that have yet to be resolved, and as negotiations continue to refinance a key funding package.
Lynas said it would move its head office to Kuala Lumpur, from Sydney, which will result in an unspecified number of job losses, with further jobs to go at its Perth office…….Investors were unnerved by the latest news, pushing Lynas shares down 7 per cent to close at 13¢.
Lynas is not the only rare earths producer encountering ongoing problems in lifting output, with US group Molycorp also struggling to bed down a capacity expansion.
Equally important to Lynas Corp’s near-term progress is resolving negotiations to refinance a $US325 million loan, via Nomura.
There has been ”no material development” with this refinancing, a Lynas spokesman said.
To help shore up its balance sheet, Lynas recently raised $40 million from shareholders as well as replacing its chief executive. http://www.smh.com.au/business/nervous-investors-ditch-lynas-ahead-of-move-to-malaysia-20140702-3b8so.html#ixzz36Xf4ozEk
Aust activist freed from Malaysia cell http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/aust-activist-freed-from-malaysia-cell/story-fni0xqll-1226970174011l AAP JUNE 28, 2014 SYDNEY woman Natalie Lowrey has been released after being detained for six days in Malaysia, where she was protesting against an Australian company’s metals plant.
MS Lowrey was arrested on Sunday while demonstrating at Lynas’ controversial plant for rare earths, which are used in tech products like smartphones.
Police were weighing a charge of unlawful assembly, which carries a maximum two-year jail term.
But on Friday night, as the New Zealander was preparing to spend a weekend behind bars with no visitors, she was suddenly released on bail.”It was a big surprise, I didn’t believe it until I had changed out of my purple jail uniform,” she told AAP.
“I felt very strong the whole week because I knew there were vigils all over Australia and Malaysia for me. I have a lot of people to thank.”
Lowrey was released along with 15 Malaysians who had also been arrested.
The lack of transparency around Ms Lowrey’s detention concerned lawyers and NGOs, who collected more than 15,000 signatures on a petition to free her.
She has her passport back and plans to leave Malaysia next week.
Strange time to suggest a LEGO nuclear future for Australia , Independent Australia, Noel Wauchope 21 April 2014, By 2022, Australia could have many “Lego-like” small nuclear reactors in operation, dotted about the nation. This is being proposed now, not just by the long-term fervent believers in Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), but in formal submissions to the coming Energy White Paper.
Last month, the Department of Industry’s submission to the Energy White Paper pitched Small Modular Reactors as an energy solution for isolated areas in Australia, where there is no access to the electricity grid.
The Energy Policy Institute of Australia (EPI) agreed in its submission, suggesting in its submission small modular reactors (SMRs) are particularly suitable for use in mines and towns in remote locations around Australia.
The BHP-funded Grattan Institute’s submission envisages a string of these little nuclear reactors, connected to the grid, along Australia’s Eastern coast.
‘The Abbott government is being told that now is the time to flick the switch to “technology neutral,” opening the way for nuclear options.’
Orchison described the advantages of SMRs as ‘Lego-like’.
In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.
America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s. Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.
But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects………..
It should be noted that nowhere in [the original article about China, does the author] Chen mention “small” reactors. However, Australian proponents of ‘small’ reactors welcomed this article, as the Thorium Small Nuclear Reactor is the favourite type proposed for Australia from all 15 possible small designs.
So, while we’re being told that China is racing ahead in the scramble to get these wonderful SMRs, in fact, China has been very much encouraged and helped into this by the U.S. Department of Energy.
This is understandable, seeing that for China it is a government project, with no required expectation of being commercially viable.
In their enthusiasm for China’s thorium nuclear project, writers neglected to mention the sobering points that Stephen Chen made in his South China Morning Post article, such as:
- ‘Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented ‘war-like’ pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve.’
- ‘… opposition from sections of the Chinese public.’
- ‘… technical difficulties – the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals that could damage the reactor.’
- ‘The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.’
- ‘… engineering difficulties .…The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue.’
- ‘These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers.’……….
Australia’s SMR enthusiasts discount the known problems of SMRs. Some brief reminders from the September 2013 report, from the United States’ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research:
- ‘Economics: $90 billion manufacturing order book could be required for mass production of SMRs …the industry’s forecast of relatively inexpensive individual SMRs is predicated on major orders and assembly line production.’
- ‘SMRs will lose the economies of scale of large reactors.’
- ‘SMRs could reduce some safety risks but also create new ones.’
- ‘It breaks, you bought it: no thought is evident on how to handle SMR recalls.’
- Not a proliferation solution. ‘The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.’
- Not a waste solution: ‘The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years).’
- Ongoing technical problems. ……….http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/strange-timing-to-suggest-a-lego-nuclear-future-for-australia,6404
Westinghouse out of unviable Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, and into lucrative Nuclear Decommissioning
Westinghouse backs out of Small Modular Reactor market Enformable Nuclear News Lucas W Hixson http://enformable.com/2014/02/westinghouse-backs-small-modular-reactor-market/Danny Roderick, President and CEO of Westinghouse announced that the nuclear firm is backing off of research and development of their Small Modular Reactor design. The Westinghouse design is a scaled down version of the AP1000 reactor, designed to produce 225 MWe, which could power 45,000 residential houses.
In December, the firm was passed over for a second time by the United States Department of Energy’s SMR commercialization program. Roderick clarified the issue and noted that it was not the deployment of the technology that posed the biggest problem – it was that there were no customers. “The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market,” he added
According to Roderick, unless Westinghouse was capable of producing 30 to 50 small modular reactors, there was no way that the firm would return its investment in the development project. In the end, given the lack of market, and the similar lack of federal funding, Westinghouse was unable to justify the economics of small modular reactors at this point.
Westinghouse was working with St. Louis-based Ameren, which had indicated its desire to build a new reactor near the State’s only existing nuclear reactor – the Calloway nuclear power plant, if a federal investment could be secured.
Westinghouse will focus its attentions on its decommissioning business, which is a $1 billion dollar per year business for the firm – which is equivalent to Westinghouse’s new reactor construction business, and rededicate its staff to the AP1000 reactor design.
Analysts are monitoring how the companies who did receive funding from the Department of Energy perform as they evolve. Source: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazett
a SILEX facility could make it much easier for a rogue state to clandestinely enrich weapons grade uranium to create nuclear bombs
SILEX could become America’s proliferation Fukushima,
Controversial nuclear technology alarms watchdogs http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/controversial-nuclear-technology-alarms-watchdogs/18138 By David Worthington | July 30, 2012 A controversial nuclear technology is raising alarms bells among critics who claim it may be better suited for making nuclear weapons than lowering the cost of nuclear power and could lead to a nonproliferation “Fukushima” for the United States.
SILEX (separation of isotopes by laser excitation) is a method for enriching uranium with lasers. It was developed by Australian scientists during the mid 1990’s as a way to reduce the cost of nuclear fuel, because uranium must be processed before it can be used to generate power.
The scientists formed Silex Systems to license the technology for commercialization, and that process is still ongoing. In 2000, the governments of Australia and the United States signed a treaty, giving the U.S. authority to review whether SILEX should be deployed. That’s because there could be a major proliferation problem. SILEX reduces the steps necessary to transform fuel grade uranium into to weapons-grade uranium, and the process doesn’t create telltale chemical or thermal emissions, according to an article published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. R. Scott Kemp, an assistant professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, has the byline. Continue reading
there was little mention of the waste — or “residue”, as Lynas prefers to call it.
Lynas and its supporters assert its operations are completely safe, but as NM reported on Monday, others — including scientists — are less confident.
The IAEA also recommended that Lynas proceed no further until it had filed comprehensive plans for the permanent disposal of waste, decommissioning of the plant and remediation of the site at the end of its life.
Lynas’ waste plans a toxic pipe dream Aliran, 19 December 2012 Scientists and community leaders are concerned about radioactive waste from Lynas’ Malaysian plant but the company representative who took Wendy Bacon’s questions brushed off the criticism. This is the second of two articles about Lynas by Wendy Bacon. Read the first here.http://aliran.com/11005.html Australian rare earth company Lynas has always known it had a waste problem.
It plans to process rare earth concentrate, imported from its mine at Mount Weld in Western Australia, at its Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) in Malaysia. It will not only produce rare earths for export but also a huge amount of waste, including more than a million cubic metres of low level radioactive material.
Lynas was originally going to build its Lamp plant in China, which produces more than 90 per cent of global rare earths. But according to its 2007 annual report, it decided to move to Malaysia, because the Chinese government was increasing its control over production, including applying environmental standards more strictly. Continue reading
Lynas will be in court in Malaysia on 19 December. The Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) campaigners will be appealing against the Kuantan High Court decision to lift its stay on the company being able to exercise its rights to proceed under the temporary licence.
The toxic waste that’s not in Australia’s backyard http://aliran.com/11005.html 18 Dec 12, Australian-owned company Lynas is quietly shipping rare earth to a processing plant in Malaysia – without a firm plan in place to dispose of dangerous radioactive waste. Wendy Bacon reports.
This is exactly how residents of Kuantan on Malaysia’s east coast reacted when the Australian company Lynas announced plans to build Lamp, the world’s biggest rare earth processing plant in their area.
Several years later, they have no clear answer. Indeed last week, while the plant that will use concentrate imported from Lynas’s rare earth mine at Mount Weld in Western Australia was finally ramping up for production, the Malaysian government and the company were in direct conflict about what would happen to the waste. Continue reading